The Hidden Nutritional Benefits of Phytochemicals

Sports dietitian Leslie Bonci relates the sources and benefits of phytochemicals.

To avoid getting sick during the winter and beyond, you need to know the hidden nutritional benefits of phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that provide our bodies with additional health benefits. STACK talked to sports dietitian Leslie Bonci to learn more about the benefits of phytochemicals.

Fruit and vegetables are the most common sources of phytochemicals. For example, oranges are a great source of carotenoids and citrus, which boost the immune system and keep the lungs healthy.

Greens like asparagus have phytochemicals called lutein and zeaxanthin, and orange peppers have carotenes. These substances work at the cellular level to build the body's defense system and keep us healthy.

Another phytochemical that helps keep the body healthy is anthocyanins, which can be found in different types of berries and in tart cherry juice. Anthocyanins help reduce inflammation in the body.

 The phytochemical capsaicin also reduces inflammation and mitigate aches and pains. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in crushed red peppers and hot sauce.
Another food that has phytochemical benefits is oatmeal, which contains beta-glucan, a specific fiber in oatmeal that supports a healthy stomach and a healthy immune system.
Including these foods in your daily diet can help you stay healthy throughout the season. To hear about more phytochemicals, watch the video with Bonci above.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FRUITS AND VEGETABLES | IMMUNE SYSTEM | BEANS | ORANGES